Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I was impressed by the road system in Bangkok: 3D express roads, skytrain and MRT etc. made me wonder how Bangkok got famous for traffic jams in the first place? I took an airport express shuttle, route AE2, that shuttles between the airport and Khaosan road, the famous backpacker's area that everybody knows if you pronounce the word like locals. The oneway system and rarely found crosswalks make the city less accessible and pedestrian unfriendly. I saw my hotel across the street but I ended up reaching it by a 5 min drive after my unsucessful walking attempt. I think I'll have to go back to Vietnam and refresh my skills at crossing roads.

I would recommend staying at the Royal Hotel, if you're there to visit the Grand Palace and temples of the old city. It's perfectly located so that you can just walk to the Palace and it's also close to Khaosan road so you can enjoy the fun of Khaosan road's nightlife and still get to sleep without all its noise .

The Grand Palace itself is stunning. It would seem to be an attempt to out do the Khmer Empire's Angkor Wat complex, including a miniature model of Angkor itself. Defeating Empires has it's benefits; what they could not replicate in size (Angkor is huge) they outdid in extravagance. Gold and jewels seem to cover everything in the palace. It's definately worth seeing.

I then stroll down to Wat Po to see the biggest reclining buddha in the world. Then took a boat along the river to see the city from the water. The Central Pier connects to the skytrain which in turn connects to the MRT at Silom Station which took me to Suan Lum Night Bazaar(MRT-Lumphini Station). It's nothing like the night markets in Taiwan, much nicer, including pubs, restaurants, live bands and a giant Ferris wheel, the "Roue de Paris" and tons of shops that sell almost everything.

It seemed like none of the taxi drivers in Bangkok knew where they were going or where anything was. I had a very interesting ride in one taxi. I gave him the hotel card and he said " oh yes I know I know" then he pulled out his magnifying glass and held the card so close to his face that I wondered how he could even see the road if he couldn't see the map on the card. I held my breath and hoped he wouldn't drive head on into a bus in oncoming traffic. He was actually the best taxi driver I had in Bangkok. So be warned, you better know where you are going. Another example is when I was going to the Thompson House. There was a sign in the MRT National Stadium Station saying: Thompson House this way, so I went that way and then no more signs. I asked a girl in the street, policeman, a chef, another woman further on all of which lead me to walk in a circle for about an hour. I finally went into a big hotel and had them put me in a taxi which ended up in the alley right next to the station exit, where I started walking.

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